Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I still don't want your window

If I read one more article or blog gushing over e-books, I am gonna scream.

I’ve made my position on this subject pretty clear in the past. I don’t like e-books. I don’t want e-books. I don’t care if other people like their e-books and I’m certainly not stupid enough that, if I ever got a publishing deal, I would forbid it from going to the e-book line. (To paraphrase one agent’s twitter, “Why limit your audience?”)

And yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be the next big publishing thing. I simply don't care.

What I do care about is the number of people who justify their e-book preference by saying that a book’s physical state, “Has no value,” or that it “Really doesn’t matter” how a book is presented.

I matters, god-dammit. You prefer an e-book? That’s fine. Your preference means that you have chosen to give up the subtle enhancements to the reading experience offered by the publisher’s choice of page design, font, paper weight and overall structure. You’ve chosen to watch your movie on a home TV rather than pay the extra cash to see it in theaters.

And that’s perfectly fine. But don’t try to tell me that you’ve gotten the same experience on the two-foot screen in your living room as you would have on a fifty-foot projection with surround sound and good digital 3-D. It’s not the same.

“But oh!” they say. “Good writing is all about the words, how they’re presented doesn’t matter!”

Fine, I say. Here is a copy of my new manuscript printed in single-spaced Comic Sans. Or if you prefer, here’s another copy in triple-spaced Kristen ITC. And maybe next time I’ll give it to you in Forte or Jokerman. These are all perfectly readable fonts, after all, so they should be just as good as Times New Roman or Arial.

“But the words are transmitted directly to my brain!”

No, those are the signals from the alien mother ship that abducted you in ’97. The words you get from the book have to be read, and that means that their visual aspect – everything from typeface to layout – has an impact on your experience. It may be only a subconscious impact, but the impact does exist.

“But I like being able to standardize my books!”

That’s fine. Enjoy your choice. Now shut up and let me enjoy mine.

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